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From Selfie to Self-Expression: Saatchi Gallery

With everyone these days chronicling their lives through selfies, it’s never been a better time to take stock of the process. In March 2017, the Saatchi Gallery will be showing a host of them. From Barack Obama’s notorious selfie with Helle Thorning-Schmidt and David Cameron at Nelson Mandela’s funeral, to earlier manifestations of the self-portrait such as those captured by Van Gogh and Cindy Sherman. Saatchi has partnered with Huawei, the smartphone brand (appropriately enough) for the show and invites its public to submit their own selfies for possible inclusion.

The exhibition will be in four parts: The History of the Selfie from the Old Masters to the Present Day; Iconic Selfies from the Beautiful and Sublime to the Mad, Bad and Dangerous; UGC, Interactive Artworks and #SaatchiSelfie Competition; and Self-Expression. In the last category, ten young British photographers have been commissioned by Huawei to create new works for the show.

You can log on to Saatchi’s site now to see the growing selfie submissions. One will be selected for the show by a panel of artists, and ten runners-up will be awarded prizes. The show will doubtless resurrect debate around what exactly constitutes art. SEEN suspects that the boundaries between artistic self-expression and ‘selfies’ has long since been blurred. There are some talented practitioners on Instagram who have turned their lives into a form of performance art, Amalia Ulman, for example. Kim Kardashian’s selfies, brought together in a book called Selfish probably doesn’t engender the same appreciation. Maybe the notion of ‘art’ lies in the intention of the artist, not in the eyes of the beholder.

There are already many fascinating selfies up on Saatchi’s website. SEEN urges all interested parties to get snapping. There’s never been a better time to do it.

Juno Calypso, “Slendertone II”, 2015. Image courtesy of theartist and TJ Boulting Gallery
Tracey Emin, “I’ve Got It All”, 2000. Image courtesy of the White Cube
Frida Kahlo, “Self-Portrait With Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird”, 1940. Courtesy Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / DACS
George Harrison, “Taj Mahal Self-Portrait”, 1966 © Harrison Family
Actor Benedict Cumber batch jumps behind U2 at the 86th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California. Courtesy Mike Blake / Reuter
Cindy Sherman, “Untitled Film Still #31977”. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York
Daniel Rozin, “Mirror No. 12”, 2013.Courtesy bitforms gallery, New York
Gavin Turk “/”, 2015. Courtesy Gavin Turk and Galerie Krinzinger Vienna
“Barack Obama selfie with Danish Prime Minister”. Courtesy ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images
“Orbiting Astronaut Self-Portrait”, 2012
Rembrandt van Rijn “Self-Portrait with Two Circles (c. 1665-69)”. Courtesy Kenwood House, Iveagh Bequest/English

Saatchi Gallery
Duke of York’s HQ
King’s Road
W3 4RY